I was awakened from a dream of faceless women with knitting needles for hands by the sound of a phone.
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I fought my way up to the waking world and promptly knocked the phone into the trash can. I filched it out, grabbed the reciever and mashed it to my ear.
"Hi there, Blake." God! Her voice was too chipper for 8am. I looked at the clock. Oh, good. It was noon. "Ready to go?"
"Uhn. G'me a few minutes."
"Of course. Meet me at the tower when you're ready."
I stared balefully at the phone. It stared evenly back, except for a small dab of mustard, which glared at me. I ignored it, and dropped the phone back in the trash.
*Yawn* Where was she? Oh, there she was.
"Hi there, Blake," she said, stepping out from behind the pillar. "Sleep well?"
"Certainly. Right up until you called me."
"That's the risk you run in giving out your real phone number." Oh. Now I understood.
"You're still sore over not being told the truth, aren't you?"
"Am I that transparent?"
"No. You are, in fact, unhealthily opaque."
"Hooray. Ready to go?"
"That depends where you intend to take me. For instance, I am most decidedly NOT ready to walk into the fires of Hell. Maybe next year."
She grinned, despite herself. "No, not Hell. The newspaper offices."
"Not really. Why are we going to the newspaper offices?"
"What, and take all the mystery out of it?"
I sighed. She was beginning to sound like me. "I'm in no mood for mystery this morning."
"I need to talk to a friend of mine about borrowing some equipment. I'd like to have another go at getting the Pruiss Hall library on film. What do you think?"
"Could be interesting. What did you have in mind?"
"A video camera, of sorts."
"Of sorts, eh? Interesting. What friend?"
"Don't know him."
"I'd be surprised if you did. Anyway..." She flagged down the bus.
"So," I said. "You intend to talk to Alex Parish about borrowing a video camera of sorts to get footage of the phenomena in Pruiss Hall?"
"May I suggest you not tell him why you want the camera?"
"Why not? He's an amateur ghost-hunter, too. He'd understand."
"All the same, I'd rather you didn't."
She raised a curious eyebrow. "This is something about you again, isn't it? Something to do with not wanting him involved."
I decided not to lie. "Yes."
Her expression darkened. "You owe me a long conversation sometime soon, Blake."
"Yes, I know."
"Alright, I won't tell him about our project."
"Thank you. May I ask, out of curiousity, what you will tell him if the camera is destroyed again?"
"I'll burn that bridge when I come to it."
"Wonderful. I certainly believe you will."
The newspaper offices of Eldrin University are, to say the least, serious. I cannot say that they are expansive, because a newspaper office is, by nature, cramped and hot. People bustle about at all hours, most of them with somewhere to actually be. The newspaper offices are also one of the few major buildings on campus where one can smoke a cigarette. The pall of smoke hangs at about eye-level, and doesn't let up. Ever. I like the offices, they've got that special sort of ambience one can only find in such places (another such feeling is that experienced by anyone who's ever seen the inner workings of a theatre), but unless you do something there, you're not welcome, so I've stayed away.
Sarah, however, walked in like she belonged there, and no-one questioned her. This is something of a feat in itself, but to pass off a tall, shaggy man wearing hand-sewn clothes AND yourself as belonging in a place qualifies as well-night Herculean in my book. But she did it. Within minutes, we were standing in front of a small wooden desk bearing the name 'PARISH' in black marker on its' side. Strewn across the desk were a multitude of photographs, scanned pictures, cameras, film, and examples of every other type of visual recording device invented in the last fifty years. Behind THIS was what looked like a large, black-haired mongoose. Closer inspection revealed it to be a small, black-haired college student, most likely the owner of the desk. He was bent almost double, fiddling with something small and decidedly electronic. He didn't look up.
"Yo, Alex." Sarah bent over the desk and made ominous messing-up motions with her hands. "Pull your head out of your ass for a moment, if you don't mind."
We suddenly had his full attention. "Hi Sarah." He glared suspiciously at me. "Who's that?"
"You ought to go out into the real world more often, Alex. You're losing your manners again. This is Harmon Blake, a friend of mine. Don't worry, he's house-trained."
I rolled my eyes.
"I'm sorry, Sarah, I'm really busy these days. Uh, how are you?"
"Splendiferous, thanks for asking. How's the photography business coming?"
He grinned like a kid at Christmas. "I got a nomination for the Baruster this year, for my picture of the accident at Hearst and Fourth. I had the letter framed."
"That's great Alex," said Sarah. "It's nice to see someone profit from the pain of others." The temperature of the room dropped noticebly.
Alex blinked owlishly. "Are you mad at me?"
Sarah sighed. "No, no. It's not your fault. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you, if you can spare a moment."
He looked down at his desk. Up at her. Down at his desk. "Uh, sure. What's up?"
"We need to borrow some of your equipment."
His eyes narrowed. "What for?"
"To film a ghost."
I closed the door quickly. Neither of them appeared to notice.
"Really?" said Alex. "You've actually found one?"
"I'm certain of it," lied Sarah. "And I want to get this one on film, if I can. C'mon Alex!"
"This is the one I've been waiting for- we've been waiting for! Conclusive proof, on video! But I need your equipment, Alex. I want to do this right, when I've got the chance."
Alex sighed. It sounded like a small balloon deflating. "What do you need?"
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.